Mary Ann Mulhern
Poet Laureate 2019-2022
Mary Ann Mulhern holds a Masters of Education and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Windsor, a Teacher’s Diploma from London Teacher’s College, and an Associate of Music from the University of Western Ontario’s Conservancy of Music.
She was a teacher with the Windsor Separate School Board (1970-1995). Mulhern began writing poetry in 2001 during a summer writing seminar at the University of Windsor. In September of 2001, she won first prize in the Freedom Festival Poetry Contest, with her poem about Harriet Tubman, entitled Freedom’s Rail. Encouraged and mentored by Marty Gervais, publisher of Black Moss Press, Mulhern wrote The Red Dress, her first book of narrative poetry, which focused on her experiences living in a convent for eight years in the sixties. Published by Black Moss Press in 2003, The Red Dress received national attention through an interview on Tapestry, CBC Radio.
Her next book, Touch the Dead, was published by Black Moss Press in 2006 and focused on her life experiences growing up in a "cemetery house," located at the edge of a cemetery in St. Thomas, Ontario, where her father was grave-digger and caretaker. Touch the Dead was shortlisted for the Acorn-Plantos Award in 2007. She later wrote When Angels Weep after researching a sexual abuse case involving a priest. In 2010, Mulhern published the sequel to The Red Dress, entitled Brides in Black. She has written countless poems, and published seven books to date.
Mulhern has been involved in workshops and readings in local high schools and over the past several years has provided guidance and mentoring for young, hopeful writers. She is involved with the Uni-com poetry class at the University of Windsor – a class for seniors who wish to continue learning in later years. She respects Marty Gervais’ work as Windsor’s inaugural poet laureate and welcomes the opportunity to continue the tradition of the popular annual Poetry at the Manor event at Willistead Manor.
In her nomination materials, Mulhern says that, if selected as Windsor’s next poet laureate, she would work closely with Poet Laureate Emeritus, Marty Gervais, the Youth Poet Laureate and fellow Windsor poets, while continuing to write and publish her own work commemorating events or celebrations in Windsor. She looks forward to the opportunity to represent Windsor as a city that welcomes, celebrates and promotes poetry and the arts, seeking to “Make Windsor Proud” while continuing to work with young writers to inspire and encourage them in their own artistic endeavours. In addition to nominating herself, Mary Ann Mulhern was nominated for the position of Poet Laureate by four other community members.
Of Mary Ann Mulhern and her work, the selection committee members said they appreciated her "voice," her respectable publication history and positive reputation, her strong ability to "tell Windsor’s Story," and the connections and influence she has both within the city and in the broader literary arts world. They felt she would be a strong mentor and that her time in area schools has shown her to be a flexible and adaptable leader with the ability to command a room. While one committee member described her as an organized presence at public readings with a strong ability to connect with audiences of all ages, another described Mulhern as an "unofficial" poet laureate over the last few years.
Works shared during Mary Ann Mulhern's term as Poet Laureate